JOHN COMMON sometimes wishes he were a filmmaker or a painter. But due to a run-in with his older brother’s record collection at an impressionable age, he ended up with an obsession for making music instead.
He writes songs and sings the hell out of them – because if he didn’t write and sing them, they’d clog his mind and his heart, and create a log jam of sorts. And then he’d get stuck at stop lights and in coffeeshop lines, mumbling incoherently to himself. He knows how to take you into a story, into a character, into a place and then pin you to the wall with feelings and thoughts that feel somehow like your own. He makes it comes across as seamless, effortless.
He makes records – because as fun as the architecture of songwriting can be, it closes a kind of karmic loop to actually build the house too. You can sleep in those records. They’ll hold you, if you let them. And even though making a good record is very hard work, when it’s done, you get to stand alone in your front yard with the door open and the record playing loudly and your neighbors pissed off but mostly understanding. That’s when you look up at the stars through your cold breath and think to yourself, “God damn. We did it… this is right.”
He plays shows with his incredibly talented friends – because, on a good night, he leaves his body down there on stage and just floats around with everyone else in the air. And that makes all of the loading of gear and winding of strings worth it. Come to a show — you’ll see. His current band is unlike anything he’s done before… John plays acoustic, keys and sings. Jess DeNicola sings backing vocals. Joe Mazza plays guitars. They’re a simple 3-piece, but somehow the impact they make is enormous whether they’re playing whisper soft, or filling the room with layers of sound and voices.
John has been writing songs, playing shows, making records, touring, and leaving a trail of art and music for longer than he cares to admit. And along the way, gotten a ton of glowing press, he’s won awards, released a bunch of records, and made the best friends of his life. You can read it, and see it, and hear it live and all over this website. Enjoy.
PEOPLE YOU’LL SEE ON STAGE
Jess DeNicola – voice, songs
When Jess opens her mouth to sing, something strange happens–it suddenly becomes 1936.
You’re standing at the bar inside a supper club with a name like ‘The Magnolia Room’. It’s a hot and humid summer night. You’ve had one too many gin and tonics. You feel like anything is possible. The woman in the white dress singing on stage makes you blush. Is she singing directly to you?
Yes. Jess is a time machine.
She’s been singing since she was about 3 years old. Her voice will break your heart, but you’ll thank her. She’s also a sweetheart.
Joe Mazza – guitars
Joe woke up from a strange dream in a strange room in a strange bed. He wasn’t sure how he got here, honestly. What day was this, anyway? He thought to himself “I live a fairly tame existence. So how did this happen?”
He looked down and saw he was fully dressed. Still had his boots on. He put his right hand into his right pocket and pulled out a worn picture of a beautiful woman and a smiling young boy. He turned to the right and saw weak morning light filtering through a window. Just a skim milk sky. He turned to the left and saw a guitar, a blonde Telecaster, leaning against a blackface Fender Vibrolux tube amp. For some reason, this made him feel better.
Right before he got up to figure things out he thought to himself, “I’m just going to lay here for another minute or two, and try to remember that dream.”
John Common – songs, voice, guitars, rhodes, wurlitzer, piano, samples
Confession: I like broken shit. I’m just drawn to it. Always have been. I like it even more if it used to be shiny, beautiful, innocent or full of promise. See, the way down is so interesting to me. The way it actually happens, why it happens, the little details that break off as it’s happening. It’s dark stuff. People don’t want to talk about it… not fun at a party. But everyone thinks about it, usually when they’re alone.
That’s just the first act though. The second act is what happens when you get to the bottom. There’s a freedom there. When you’re beyond preaching, and over the guilt. You arrive at a dangerous kind of emotional escape velocity where things can break apart. And then they do.
And that leads to the third act: the next life. You’re the same, sort of, but changed. First purpose become next purpose. It’s when you’re standing on the other side of a burnt bridge. When you let everything go. It feels pretty good. Relaxed. And things come back together in new ways.
I think this is why I’ve always been attracted to junk yards. All those rusty, broken things lying around. Story after story. Ever go to a good junk yard on an unbearably hot summer day and look really closely at the totaled cars? Crumpled up around the engine compartment, cracked windshield, what might be blood on the steering wheel… and you find some weirdly-shaped engine part… part of a drive train… a rusted gear of some sort. You haggle with the junkyard guy who smells like grease and could give a shit about your artistic notions. “Whatever, man. It’s $40 bucks. That’s my bottom price.”
You bring the gear home and put it on your kitchen counter. Every morning you stare at it, trying to decipher the shape. It’s living its next life… a resurrection as sculpture. From function to art.
Anyway, I write songs and sing and make records. And I’m learning to weld.
PRESS, DISCOGRAPHY & AWARDS
“John Common makes sure that he leaves nothing unturned when he writes. He makes naked people. Or, he turns them naked. He disrobes them.” – Daytrotter
“A songwriter of remarkable depth and maturity.” – Denver Post
“He examines the terrors of adulthood and busted relationships… John Common makes maturity sound like a condition that thrives on the distance between us all — and that may be the point.” — Nashville Scene
“Raw, yet sophisticated pop.” – The Onion
“By the third song, I was a fan. By the fifth song, I wanted to join the band. The music was very nearly flawless.”– The Examiner
“… An acoustic rock masterpiece. Gorgeously harmonized and deftly orchestrated, the album is a perfect 10.” – Music Connection
“Rich with songcraft, smarts, and emotion.” –The Courier-Journal
“The lyrics are full of honest truth, so bare that you can’t help laughing to yourself, Yes, that’s exactly how it feels. This guy knowns what he’s doing.” – Unveiled Arts
“From the second they took the stage until the second they left it, they played with the sort of blind joy that will make you believe in whatever they’re doing — it’s pure passion and happiness.” – Westword
“John’s clever lyrics and perfectly crafted songs are outdone only by his huge and prolific body of work. This guy puts out a solid album twice a year. No wonder his songs are good.” – Denver Music Scene, Top 10 Singer-Songwriters
“A lush, atmospheric sound built around literary-quality songwriting and top-shelf instrumentation.” –Pensacola News Journal
“The lyrics are those of the poet–laureate, insightful, and glaringly crisp in their focus. Beautiful Empty is full of mystery, intrigue, loneliness, pain, and searching — and there’s no direct answers here…there’s no salvation, no redemption – although there is hope, optimism. All put together we get one of the most sophisticated and intelligent adult pop records of the past several decades.” The Colorado Sound
“There are songs that make me want to drink till morning you see… Songs that make me wish I’d somehow gone home with that handsome stranger who smiled when I looked up from my book… Songs that make me want to be loud and messy and get into lots of trouble, when normally I am quiet and neat and only get into medium amounts of trouble… Songs I’ve caught myself putting on repeat when it’s 2 am and I have to wake up at 6…” – A girl at a John Common show
“Wow. You have punched me in the gut, watered my eyelids, and knocked me for a loop. What a grand and aching and sweeping bittersweet and beautiful song. Harmonies to match.” – A guy at a John Common show
Make It Real (Single) – 2019
Two Rivers (EP) – 2015
Side 3 (EP) – 2011
Beautiful Empty – 2011
Spill (EP) – 2007
Why Birds Fly – 2007
Good To Be Born – 2006
The Longest Street In America (Rainville) – 2003
Collecting Empties (Rainville) – 1999
2015 Westword Icon
2014 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2013 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2012 Westword Nominated Best Indie Folk Band
2011 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2010 Top 20 Albums (Beautiful Empty) — Colorado Music and Radio
2010 Mover and Shaker — Westword
2010 Denver Post Top 20 Underground Bands
2010 Westword Best Indie Folk/Acoustic Artist
2009 Westword Nominated Best Pop Artist
2009 Denver Music Scene Top 10 Songwriters
2009 Lyons Folks Festival Finalist
2008 Telluride Troubadour Finalist
2008 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2007 Lyons Folks Festival Finalist
2007 Mover and Shaker / Best Local Release — Westword
2007 Best Local Release — The Denver Post
2006 Most Intriguing Discs – The Onion
2006 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter